With a revolutionary system like the Gameboy Advance, you’re bound to have many amazing games grace its screen. With a heart full of nostalgia and eagerness to replay many of these titles, we’re counting down the best of the best GBA games. We tried to keep it short, but you should be happy we stopped at 25!
25. Ultimate Card Games
Release Date: 2004
Who has the time to get a group of people together, sit down, and play a game of poker? Nobody that’s who! Especially not in the good ole’ early 2000’s, we were all too busy playing virtual card games on our Gameboys. Telegames published Ultimate Card Games for the Nintendo Gameboy Advance in 2004 and made it super easy to procrastinate anywhere you wanted with a round of Solitaire. Boasting card games from Cribbage to Canasta, you didn’t need to rely on a friend to join you in a game of Go Fish or Rummy to have fun, although it supports multiplayer, you had the capable AI opponent who could really give you a run for your money.
24. Super Monkey Ball JR
Release Date: November 20, 2002
If you think Monkeys are cool, have you ever seen one rolling around in a giant ball? If so, that was probably in developer Realism’s 2002 platformer Super Monkey Ball Jr. Playing as one of four Monkeys, you had to navigate through over 60 increasingly difficult courses before time ran out. Being one of the few games to utilize the GBA’s 3D capabilities, you could experience the linear life of a poor ball-bound Monkey in wonderful polygonal textures. You just had to be careful not to roll your primate friend off the edge of any of the mazes.
23. Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga
Release Date: November 17, 2003
Starting off the Mario & Luigi RPG series of games was the critically acclaimed Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. Beginning with everyone’s favourite damsel in distress, Princess Peach, having her voice stolen—to be replaced with explosives—by the evil witch Cackletta and her cohort Fawful. Differing from the majority of RPG games, players controlled Mario and Luigi simultaneously, combining their various abilities to outwit enemies and obstacles. Taking place, not in the Mushroom Kingdom, but in the Beanbean Kingdom, Mario and Luigi must work with Queen Bean, her son Prince Peasley, and even traditional antagonist Bowser, to fight the Beanish witch and save Peach’s voice.
22. Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2
Release Date: May 29, 2001
If you like to skate, and you like video games, then you’ll surely like to forgo real-life skateboarding and pick up your Gameboy to skate instead. In Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, a port of the PS1 game, players took on the role of a professional skater, either one of their own creation or a real-world professional. With a two-minute time limit on most levels. players would complete various tasks like collecting letters to spell SKATE and doing sick tricks for points and cash. Being the first of the series to introduce the Manual, a trick where the performer would balance their board on two wheels, players could string together several combos for much higher scores. Starting the trend for future Tony Hawk games to include Create a Skater and to customize parks, it’s one of many trailblazing games available on the GBA, showing us that skating can be a lot more fun, and a lot less painful if you’re only using your thumbs.
21. Advance Wars
Release Date: September 10, 2001
Originally intended to be a Japanese exclusive, designer Kentaro Nishimura said: “Advance Wars’ success shifted Nintendo’s attitude over Western tastes”.
Nintendo erroneously believed westerners would have no interest in a complex, turn-based strategy game. The objective was to defeat the enemy army by either complete annihilation of their units, or by capturing their HQ. Two to four armies headed by a Commanding Officer would take turns building and moving units, while also launching attacks against their opponents and attempting to capture various strategic buildings.
20. Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros 3
Release Date: October 21st, 2003
Developer: Nintendo R&D2
An enhanced remake of the NES’ Super Mario Bros. 3, this is the fourth entry in the Super Mario Advance series. Playing as either Mario or Luigi as you make your way through eight Kingdoms of the Mushroom World, the main objective is to defeat the seven Koopa Kids and Bowser. Super Mario Advance 4 was also compatible with the Nintendo e-Reader, which allowed players to scan in cards to add additional content. The predominant feature was to add extra stages, up to 32 per game copy.
19. Mario Tennis Power Tour
Release Date: December 5, 2005
Developer: Camelot Software Planning & Nintendo SPD Group No.4
Developed by Camelot, who proved themselves as a creator of quality leisure sport video games in the days of the Gameboy Color, Mario Tennis Power Tour served up a great experience. Feeling similar to it’s GameCube counterpart, but adding in Power-Shots and a more fleshed out single-player story, it felt like a much more engaging game. Another reason why adding Mario to anything, even Tennis, will make it better.
18. Golden Sun
Release Date: 2001
When they weren’t busy raking in money from tennis and golf based video games, Camelot made one of the most impactful titles Gameboy Advance gamers would see. Delivering an impressively complex story, astounding soundtrack, and eye-pleasing visuals, Camelot brought a console-level experience to a portable handheld format. Eliciting a wave of excitement on its announcement, it was one of the most highly anticipated Gameboy Advance games on the market. Following up with a sequel, Golden Sun: The Lost Age, built upon and improved the game’s mechanics, but the original resides in many hearts as one of the best GBA games.
17. Ninja Five-O
Release Date: April 2003
Despite being generally well-received and being about a Ninja, Ninja Five-O did not do so well in sales. Playing a Joe Osugi, players were tasked with defeating a terrorist group wielding masks of terrible, obscene power. With a hearty mix of platforming and combat, this under-appreciated title was overall quite amazing, leading one to question both why no-one picked this game up during its release, and why it was never released in Japan either. Now being known as an incredibly rare game, it’s also one of the most sought-after GBA titles, with a boxed copy fetching £200 on eBay at one point. What were people in 2003 thinking, passing up a game about a platforming, terrorist-fighting, ninja.
16. Mario Vs. Donkey Kong
Release Date: May 24, 2004
Developer: Nintendo Software Technology
While Bowser is off kidnapping Princess Peach, Donkey Kong is kidnapping mini-Mario figurines from a toy factory. With his priorities in the right place, Mario sets out to stop Donkey Kong and save the mini-Mario figures. An update to a Gameboy Color classic, this platformer-puzzler was perfect for the Gameboy Advance. Playing into the pick-up and play style, it was easy to pick the game up for a puzzle or two and come back to it later. Princess Peach can take of her self, Mario has more important things to see to.
15. Wario Ware: Twisted
Release Date: May 23, 2005
Following its predecessor WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgames!, WarioWare: Twisted was a collection of games that lasted only a few seconds each, but WarioWare: Twisted turned players’ world all around. Featuring a cartridge mounted gyroscope, the vast collection of games could only be completed when you would spin and twist your GBA. Despite offering a refreshingly new gaming experience, it was overlooked and passed-on by numerous, definitely unfortunate, gamers.
14. Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town
Release Date: November 17, 2003
Usually, when someone receives property in a deceased person’s will, it’s a terribly haunted house you have to spend the night in to keep, in Harvest Moon you get a life as a farmer. Considered the definitive entry in the series, Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town highlighted many of the features found on the previous console entries while providing several new staples to the series. Bringing a decrepit old farm back to life, and aiming to make a profit from growing crops and raising livestock, you get to leave the hustle and bustle city life behind and start planting some seeds.
13. Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
Release Date: January 10, 2005
Developer: Capcom and Flagship
Retaining a similar gameplay style from the twelve previous Legend of Zelda entries, The Minish Cap also added a few new features. Series protagonist Link finds himself in possession of Ezlo, a hat that shrinks Link down to the size of the Minish, a bug race living in Hyrule. Offering up a healthy serving of nostalgia for the classic 2D overhead mechanics seen in the series on the SNES, NES, and original Gameboy, the ability to shrink down and explore gives players a new perspective and loads of tiny adventures in their hands.
12. Mario Kart: Super Circuit
Release Date: August 27, 2001
The definitive Gameboy Advance game, being highlighted on the handheld’s debut by Nintendo, was the shining proof that all the fun that could be had on a console like the SNES could be had in the palm of our hand. Putting the GBA’s single cartridge multiplayer abilities to good use, you could ruin friendships faster than a round of monopoly using the Game Link Cable. It’s a universal law that whenever mentioning the best GBA games, Mario Kart: Super Circuit must be on the list and one that surely can’t be missed.
11. Metroid Fusion
Release Date: November 18, 2002
Developer: Nintendo R&D1
Releasing alongside the GameCube’s Metroid Prime in North America, Metroid: Fusion was praised for its action-oriented gameplay and overall quality. Linking Fusion and Prime via the GameCube and GBA Link cable, players could unlock special features in Prime, and at the completion of Fusion, would unlock an emulated version of the original Metroid. A cornerstone title of the Gameboy Advance, Metroid Fusion is a must-play for any well-respected Metroid fan.
10. Super Mario Advance 2: Super Mario World
Release Date: December 14, 2001
For good reasons, all of which boil down to it introduces Yoshi, Super Mario Advance 2: Super Mario World was the fifth best-selling GBA game in history. Featuring the best of the best in platforming mechanics, it also introduced several new things, unarguably the most important being Yoshi, Super Mario World remains a hallmark of the Gameboy Advance and a highlight in the catalogue of Mario games. Even better, you can enjoy it (it being Yoshi, of course) on the go!
9. Fire Emblem
Release Date: November 3, 2003
With titles like WarioWare: Twisted and Advance Wars under their belt, it’s no wonder why Intelligent’s Fire Emblem was a hit on the GBA. With the wonderfully terrible element of Perma-death hanging over players’ heads, the intensity of the grid-based tactical combat was harrowing, but fortunately for new players, there were in-depth tutorials allowing for great accessibility. Becoming the sixth-best reviewed game for the GBA, it helped kick off the GameCube’s sequel Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance.
8. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
Release Date: September 8, 2003
Sharing many traits with the 1997 Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance offered a similar but quite familiar style. Being ranked #7 at the Annual Interactive Achievement Awards in 2004, this spin-off gave players the Final Fantasy experience in a hand-held format. With exciting battles and colourful visuals. Combining an interesting story with an amazing musical score and stunning visuals, this is a must-play for fans of the series and a testament to the wonder that could be created for the Gameboy Advance.
7. Mario Golf
Release Date: June 22, 2004
Coming back with another hole-in-one, Camelot’s follow up to the Gameboy Color’s original Mario Golf, the Advance Tour offers up the best sport for a pick-up and play style system. With a surprisingly addictive leveling system, RPG style, Advance Tour is one of the best GBA games for good reason.
6. Super Mario Advance 3: Yoshi’s Island
Release Date: September 24, 2002
Developer: Nintendo EAD
A reissue of the SNES game, Yoshi’s Island is not only one of the best instalments in the Super Mario Advance series, but one of the best platforming experiences to be had on the GameBoy Advance. Sporting updated graphics and additional features, it was another critically acclaimed success for Nintendo, and we believe it’s all due to Yoshi. Come on, who doesn’t love Yoshi and a little baby Mario?
5. Metroid: Zero Mission
Release Date: February 9, 2004
Developer: Nintendo R&D1
With Metroid Fusion bringing the series to the GBA’s handheld platform, Metroid: Zero Mission cemented the series as a GameBoy hallmark. With addictive action and a mix of the best elements from previous entries in the series, Metroid: Zero Mission became a fan-favorite despite its relatively short story. While being a remake of the Original Metroid, Zero Mission brought players back into the wonderful game, and also added a slew of extra content to sate the appetite of Samus’ fans.
4. Final Fantasy VI Advance
Release Date: April 2,1994
A re-issue of the 1994 SNES title, Final Fantasy VI Advance is considered the definitive entry in the series for fans. Lauded over as the best 2D game in the series, the exceptional musical score combined with the brilliant story made for an experience like no other, especially on the GBA’s version. With all the tremendous fun to be had in a Final Fantasy game available in the palm of your hands, it’s no wonder this game has become one of the most recognized accomplishments in porting over SNES games to the GBA. A must-have for fans new, and old, FFIV Advance set the bar exceptionally high for other ported GBA titles.
3. Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
Release Date: May 6, 2003
Heralded as the best game of the Castlevania series, Aria of Sorrow hit the Gameboy Advance like a lightning strike. With all the beautiful visuals, music and interesting characters, players enjoyed one of the best experiences in the handheld gaming realm. Developer Konami released Castlevania: Circle of the Moon as a GBA launch exclusive, backing the system 100% so, it’s no wonder why Aria of Sorrow turned out so amazing. Selling over 150,000 copies in the first three months of its release, this is the quintessential platformer for the GBA, enjoying a futuristic coat of paint that differed from previous Castlevania entries, while keeping the similar feeling around. We still think it’s the best game from the series and an amazing game for the GBA.
2. Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past and Four Swords
Release Date: December 2, 2002
Developer: Nintendo & Capcom
An outstanding port of the SNES classic, Link to the Past captured the feel of the original version perfectly, leaving it pressed in our minds as one of Link’s greatest adventures whilst saving Zelda. One of the game’s most notable features is it’s inclusion of multiplayer, as long as you had four GBAs, four copies of the game and enough linking cables for everyone. Multiplayer Zelda? You literally cannot love the sound of that, especially since being on the GBA meant you could take the action anywhere and everywhere.
1. Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire
Release Date: November 21, 2002
Developer: Game Freak
It’s basically illegal to have a list of the best games and not include Pokémon. Not only is Ruby and Sapphire one of the most memorable Pokemon experiences, it’s also the best-selling GBA games released in history, planting it firmly at #1 on our list. While the visuals might not hold up to the test of time, the replayability of these paired games do. Revelling in the deep RPG elements the series is known for, any graphics faults were made up for in the gameplay. Rich in story and with a variety of Pokémon to catch and battle with offered hours of fun for players, as well as making a Pokémon a staple in gaming culture.
That’s the best of the best Gameboy Advance games, and while there are many other games that graced the handheld platform, these burn in our minds and hearts as the upper echelon of video games which helped to introduce many players to the rich worlds you find in these titles. How’s that for a little slice of nostalgia? Did we miss one of your favourites? Let us know in the comments before you run off to find your old GBA or download an emulator to relive these incredible experiences.